Lisa Horn: "Ravens, crows, and co. - A new model taxon for investigating the evolution of prosociality"

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Primate Conversations with Lisa Horn - 9th Mar 2021

Talk abstract: Helping and sharing with other individuals is considered to be one of the hallmarks of human behaviour. The wish to understand the phylogenetic roots of these so-called prosocial behaviours (i.e., voluntary actions that benefit other individuals) has inspired a host of studies in non-human animals in the last two decades. Comparisons of prosociality across different species have, however, so far largely focused on primates. To truly probe the evolutionary driving forces of prosociality, it is paramount to additionally look at other animal taxa. From a comparative perspective, the corvid family – a cosmopolitan bird family that includes crows, ravens, jays, and magpies – is of particular interest for the investigation of prosociality. Corvids’ social cognition parallels that of primates and they live in highly diverse and often complex social systems (e.g. cooperative breeding). In this talk, I will present new insights about the prevalence of prosociality among corvids, with a special focus on the potential impact of a given species’ social system and other social factors on the expression of prosocial behaviour.

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